The Lions have named a strong Super Rugby squad that includes 12 Springboks and the incredibly exciting former Jeppe Boys High loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani.
Looking to go one better than their appearances in the last two Super Rugby finals, new head coach Swys de Bruin named a squad that includes heavyweights Warren Whiteley, Ruan Combrinck, Andries Coetzee, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel and the injured Courtnall Skosan.
New players in the squad include former Bulls prop Jacobie Adriaanse, scrumhalf on the rise, Marco Jansen van Vuuren, and Dayimani.
Born of a Nigerian father and a Xhosa mother, the 20-year-old was born in Cape Town, moved to Cradock in the Eastern Cape pre-teens and concluded his adolescence in Johannesburg.
The No 8’s father was a devout Jew while his mother is a Sangoma, which led to the former Jeppe Boys High student’s unique first name.
Speaking to SuperSport, Dayimani explains: “My name is a combination of two names. Because my father was Jewish he wanted me to have a Hebrew name.
“He wanted to name me Akiva, and my mother wanted to name me Mpumelelo, which roughly translates to achiever in English. So they decided on Hacjivah because it included Akiva and also sounded like achiever.”
His surname means diamond!
Given his father’s prowess in the sport, Dayimani initially had boxing aspirations, but it was his pace that lead him to rugby. Despite being a big lad (he is now 1.89m and 99.6kg), his personal bests for the 100m and 200m sprints when he left school were 10.70sec and 21sec.
His big school break came when Jeppe offered him the Jake White scholarship.
“But I didn’t do well at Jeppe at first because I was always a star at my old school and there I was nobody,” he says of his first few months. “I almost left but in athletics I beat a former SA under-13 champion by a long way and suddenly everyone was paying attention to me.”
A move from lock to 8th man at U16 level was another game changer, one that got the Lions attention. Dayimani went on to play for the SA Schools team and the victorious SA Sevens team at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.
Might 2018 see him get his big break at Super Rugby level?
Lions 2018 Super Rugby squad:
Jacobie Adriaanse, Cyle Brink, Robbie Coetzee, Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronjé, Ashlon Davids, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ruan Dreyer, Aphiwe Dyanti, Willie Engelbrecht, Lourens Erasmus, Andries Ferreira, Corne Fourie, Rhyno Herbst, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Elton Jantjies, Johannes Jonker, Jaco Kriel, Robert Kruger, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Len Massyn, Christiaan Meyer, Howard Mnisi, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Shaun Reynolds, Marnus Schoeman, Sti Sithole, Courtnall Skosan, Dillon Smith, Kwagga Smith, Dylan Smith, Madosh Tambwe, Jacques van Rooyen, Harold Vorster, Warren Whiteley (captain)